The Heart of Modesty

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Jay's picture

Are you claiming they actually have a good point? That Lev 18:22 or Lev 20:13 have no legitimate say any more? 

No, what I am saying is that those particular laws were nullified by the death of Christ, who fulfilled the Law in our place.  They have now been rendered moot.

My question for you is if you don't understand that principle now, how on earth are you going to handle it when a liberal or pagan (someone not on your side and who is less charitably inclined to you) throws that same line back?  You want to use Leviticus to ban 'nakedness'?  That's fine, but you have to reinstate all the other Levitical laws as well to be consistent.  Good luck squaring that with the NT.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Ron Bean's picture

I think the point Jay and others are making is that sometimes we pick and choose the OT laws we want to apply in this dispensation (did I just say dispensation?). We sometimes also derive a Christian principle from some of those laws and give it the same weight as the law itself. 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

AndyE's picture

Jay wrote:

Are you claiming they actually have a good point? That Lev 18:22 or Lev 20:13 have no legitimate say any more? 

No, what I am saying is that those particular laws were nullified by the death of Christ, who fulfilled the Law in our place.  They have now been rendered moot

Your method of dealing with this claim of of the unsaved is to effectively throw out the Pentateuch from the Bible as authoritative Scripture. 2 Tim 3:16-17 doesn't give me that option. The Law is still valuable to the Christian. Even though there may be some difficulties trying to figure out how certain passages apply in our dispensation, that doesn't mean we just throw up our hands and give up on all of them. Like I said earlier, there are good answers but throwing out the Pentateuch is not one of them.  

AndyE's picture

Ron Bean wrote:

We sometimes also derive a Christian principle from some of those laws and give it the same weight as the law itself. 

That's because all Scripture is profitable for doctrine, even OT Mosaic Law. 

Greg Long's picture

Christ fulfilled the Law of Moses and we are no longer under it. We are under the Law of Christ as contained in the NT commands.

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Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

G. N. Barkman's picture

Agreed.  Yet how do you answer those who say, for example, that the NT says nothing about beastiality?  Are we to assume that its OK for New Covenant believers.  (God forbid!)  Don't we need the Law of Moses to help inform us about this?

G. N. Barkman

Greg Long's picture

No, because Jesus defined marriage and sexuality in Mt. 19 as between one man and one woman.

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Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

TylerR's picture

Editor

I've never found this "law of Christ" argument to be very persuasive at all. The NT writers quote from the OT with familiarity and ease, and consider them binding (e.g. 1 Peter 1:14-15). Consider, for example, Paul's reason for apologizing for insulting the high priest (Acts 23). I don't see any equivocation or halting explanation about how the Old Covenant law does or does not apply to him - he certainly felt that one did. I don't think the "law of Christ" argument is something any of the apostles would have recognized. I know Ryrie liked it, and advocated it. I know many dispensationalists advocate it. I think it's more than a stretch to get there.

I think this is a very good article. I particularly liked this bit towards the end:

What does modesty look like in daily life? To the woman or girl in any stage of her life, ask yourself questions when you get ready. Will this outfit hinder others from seeing Christ in me? Do I want to wear this so people will look at me and how good I look, or do I think this will help me to properly serve God? This doesn’t mean you can’t dress in a way that looks nice. God has given us the ability to enjoy things we do on earth. The danger comes when we allow those gifts to take a higher priority in our lives than God intended.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Bert Perry's picture

I actually taught Matthew 5:27-32 at a nursing home last Sunday--it's more applicable than one would think, as my eldest is a pretty CNA working at a nursing home--and one of the things I noted is that the word generally translated "uncleanness" in Deuteronomy 24:1 is actually the word for nakedness.  I found it fascinating that what Jesus is doing in Matthew is to note that His position IS the Torah position.  A look at Leviticus 18 was also helpful, as it has a bunch of uses of the same word.

No argument that the New Testament perspective on sexuality is sufficient; it is.  No argument that the Law is completed in Christ, and that its demands--and especially the demands of Oral Torah--on us are no longer functional.   That's 100% true.

But that said, it's useful to consult for a number of reasons.  It shows that Jesus and Paul are not really treading that much new ground in many areas, and that the character of God is consistent.  That goes even to a lot of places where I cannot help but see the Gospel--places like Psalm 110, the curses spoken at the end of Deuteronomy, Genesis 1-3, etc..

The danger I see here is that we'd almost abandon the Pentateuch, or even the entire Old Testament, and thus lose all that it says about our faith, and how it clarifies New Testament theology.  God gave the whole Word to us for a reason, no?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Greg Long's picture

I'm not one to die on the hill defending dispensationalism, and I know much smarter men than I have debated this through the centuries, but I've never understood why this is so difficult.

  1. You cannot pick and choose which laws of a law code are still in effect and which aren't. The Law of Moses is a code of law, and you are either under it or you are not. The tripartite division of the Law (civil, moral, ceremonial) is completely foreign to it (just ask any Jewish interpreter), and it breaks down completely once you start trying to categorize each law.
  2. Just because certain laws are common to both the Old and the New Testaments doesn't mean they "carried over" from one to the other, it simply means that they reflect God's higher moral law that he has applied to both His people Israel in the OT and to NT Christians. The fact that murder is against the law in both the US and Zimbabwe does not mean that somehow I am under certain aspects of Zimbabwe law; it just means there is a higher moral law that is reflected in both law codes.
  3. The New Testament says the Law of Moses has been abrogated. The "ministry of death, written and engraved on stones (Ten Commandments)," was "passing/fading away" (as pictured by Moses' fading glory) (2 Cor. 3:7-16). NT Christians are "not under law, but under grace" (Rom. 6:14; 7:4; Gal. 2:19; 4:4-7; 1 Tim. 2:8-9).
  4. For people to argue that this perspective results in the OT becoming meaningless is just silly. There are so many reasons why the OT is important and helpful (showing us sin, showing us God's moral law, pointing to Christ, prophecy, etc). Paul himself tells us why the OT is important, "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come" (1 Cor. 10:11).

     

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Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

TylerR's picture

Editor

I understand what you're saying. I just believe the systematic dispensationalist answer to this question usually founders when you go to exegesis. In some cases, this is the nature of systematic theology - it's supposed to be a thorough systemization of what you believe the Bible teaches on a specific topic. But, by its very nature, this discipline can be ripe for prooftexting and taking things out of their original contexts. In some areas of every theological system, not just the "law issue," positions often break apart when you bring people out of the clouds and down to the texts. On this one issue, I think dispensationalism falls pretty hard.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Greg Long's picture

And that's how we differ, because I believe the Reformed attempt to divide the Law of Moses into 3 breaks down when you actually do exegesis. And note my answer was based on Scripture, not on dispensationalism. In fact I really don't care one way or the other that it happens to be a tenet of dispensationalism (I shouldn't have even mentioned that word in my post); I believe it because it seems to me to agree with biblical teaching.

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Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

TylerR's picture

Editor

I get what you're saying. I think we can all agree that modesty, like every Biblical command, isn't about simple external conformity. True obedience begins from the heart; you should want to obey God's law because you love Him. This should inform how we speak about modesrty, and every other Biblical command. We have to understand the various OT commands, understand their context, discern (as best we can) how these principles apply to our contemporary situatuion, and do the same with the NT commands.

Whatever you come up with, we should never lose sight of the fact that modesty isn't an external issue. It's an internal one, and loving obedience to God's commands always produces measurable fruit. Modesty isn't about what to wear; it's about why you want to wear it, too - or not wear it!

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

AndyE's picture

Saying that the Law has been abrogated seems to go further than what the NT text will allow.

First, there is Christ’s statement in Matt 5:17 that he did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. On top of that he says, that anyone who “relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.”  So, right of the bat, I think we need to tread carefully here. To say the Law has been rendered moot doesn’t seem to line up with what Christ is saying here.

Second, we have the very clear statements from the Apostle Paul regarding the continued significance of the Law under the New Covenant.  For example, at the end of Romans 3, after Paul has detailed the principles of justification by faith alone and the redemption that is ours through the propitiatory work of Jesus Christ on the cross, he asks, “Do we then overthrow the Law by this faith?”  The answer is NO – we “uphold the Law.”  In fact, according to Rom 8:4, the “righteous requirements of the Law” are fulfilled in us who are in Christ.

So, here is my question, if the Law has been abrogated or rendered moot, why is it important that I meet the demands of the Law in Christ? Why does it matter if the Law is upheld or not?

Then I can also ask, why does Paul in Romans 8:7-8 equate (1) being hostile to God and not pleasing to God with (2) not submitting to God’s Law?

And further, if the Law has been done away with, doesn’t that vitiate Paul’s argument regarding the universal sinfulness of mankind in Romans 2 because both have violated God’s Law, whether they have heard it directly (Jews) or had it written on their hearts (Gentiles)?

Where does that leave us?  For my part I think (1) we are no longer under the Law in terms of its condemnation, and (2) the fulfilling of the Law by Christ and the initiation of the New Covenant has rendered certain portions of the Law obsolete – the sacrificial system is no longer needed and the dividing wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile has been broken down.  For me, it’s not a matter of which laws are repeated and which are not. To me it comes down to this – how has Christ impacted each aspect of the Law and what does it mean to obey a command now in light of Christ’s fulfillment?

This is a difficult subject and I don’t claim to have it all figured out but this is how I approach it.

Jay's picture

Andy, these are good questions, and I don't have answers to all of them but I'll give it my best shot.

So, here is my question, if the Law has been abrogated or rendered moot, why is it important that I meet the demands of the Law in Christ? Why does it matter if the Law is upheld or not?

When Jesus came - or when the Apostles preached about Him - they always call for repentance based on sin.  They don't spend time explaining the Law or defining it.  They call for repentance.  Romans 1-3 is pretty clear that all have sinned, either by being crushed by the burden of the Law into a knowledge of sin or by violating the inherent moral principles that all men know and hold to even though they deny the God that created them and rules above all.  See Romans 1:18-23 and 3:14-15:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things... (1:18-23) 

...For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus... (3:14-15)

Those are my first attempts at an answer for you.  Maybe someone else can explain it better than I could.

Then I can also ask, why does Paul in Romans 8:7-8 equate (1) being hostile to God and not pleasing to God with (2) not submitting to God’s Law?

Well, if the two great commandments are to love the Lord with all the heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 10:28-34), then no human out there has ever done that for even half a second.  That's why God can rightly charge us with sin.

And further, if the Law has been done away with, doesn’t that vitiate Paul’s argument regarding the universal sinfulness of mankind in Romans 2 because both have violated God’s Law, whether they have heard it directly (Jews) or had it written on their hearts (Gentiles)?

I think Paul's point is that there is no inherent merit in obeying the Law, so we shouldn't expect that to help us (Romans 2).  As he says later on - the point of the Law is to bring us to the place where we realize that we can't obey it or fulfill it; it is a schoolmaster that is in place to point us to Christ's fulfillment of that for us (Galatians 3:23-29).  It is through Christ's work that we are redeemed, and it is a gift of grace, not of works (Ephesians 2:8-9).

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

AndyE's picture

Thank you, Jay, for taking the time to interact with what I have written.  I mainly wanted to explain why I had heartburn with some of the previous comments that were made. I think this is a difficult subject and it can be hard to account for all the relevant passages. There is one thing you said, though, that I think merits push back because I’m not sure you meant exactly what you said.

Jay wrote:
I think Paul's point is that there is no inherent merit in obeying the Law, so we shouldn't expect that to help us (Romans 2). 

Actually, Romans 2 makes the exact opposite point. Verse 13 says it is the “doers of the Law who will be justified.”  Later on in Romans 10, Paul will write, “Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the Law that the person who does the commandments shall live by them.” The Law is the standard and if you obey the Law, then you will be justified.  Of course, there is only one person who has done that or could do that – Jesus – but it is because there is inherent merit in obeying the Law that Christ’s righteousness is so valuable to us. So, it's not that there is no merit in obeying the Law but that, as sinners, we have no ability to fully obey the Law -- which is Paul's point.

Here are a few articles from TGC that help explain what to do with some of the problem passages in Leviticus that have been referred to on this thread.  As I said before, I think there are good answers to the questions that have been raised.

Making Sense of Scripture’s ‘Inconsistency’

Daring to Delight in Leviticus

The Bible and Same-Sex Relationships: A Review Article

Jay's picture

I don't have much time, but let me say this:

I think Paul's point is that there is no inherent merit in obeying the Law, so we shouldn't expect that to help us (Romans 2). 

I don't like the way this is phrased, and struggled with the best way to put it.  This may not have been the best wording to use.

Next, I want to note that I'm being very general in this discussion in the use of the Law.  I'm not speaking of particular details and applications because I'm making a broader point that the Law has been fulfilled and is no longer applicable for us.

I would like to add more, but these are some of the passages that are coming to mind regarding the Law:

For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. (Romans 2:25-29)

Paul's point here is that the Jewish rite of circumcision has merit, but only if that circumcision is accompanied by strict obedience ot the Law.  James also makes this point in James 2:10-12.

Next of all, Paul shifts his argument at the end of chapter 2 to the fact that righteousness is imputed through faith (in Romans 3):

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it--the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one--who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. (Romans 3:21-31)

And finally, in Romans 4, Paul shifts his polemic and talks about Abraham, with a cross-application to David:

What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin." Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. (Romans 4:1-13)

Finally, Paul again shifts his argument in chapter five, making it crystal clear what he is arguing:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)

Even a few chapters later, Paul makes the point that we are no longer under the Law, explicitly comparing the rules on divorce to a woman whose husband has died:

Or do you not know, brothers--for I am speaking to those who know the law--that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. (Romans 7:1-6)

 

I'll come back later, when I have more time.  Hope this helps.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Don Johnson's picture

AndyE wrote:

Daring to Delight in Leviticus

This one is really outstanding. Thanks for posting. I agree with him about the best commentary on Leviticus, Gordon Wenham. I've preached through Leviticus twice, using Wenham and Lange mostly as my aides. I think understanding Leviticus is quite important for this discussion. I also think more preachers should do some work in this area for there overall Biblical Theology. All the rest of Scripture comes together much better if we see the connections with the OT.

BTW, I see that Sklar was a student of Wenham and has written his own commentary in the Tyndale commentary series. I probably should get that one.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Don Johnson's picture

I think you are trying too hard to dismiss the value of the Law. And I don't think the passages you cite are saying what you think they are saying.

Romans 1-5 are about justification - the Law can't justify, only Christ can. That's Paul's main point.

Romans 6-8 are about sanctification - the works of the Law can't sanctify, only faith and dependence on the Spirit sanctifies. That's Paul's second point.

None of these passages are saying the Law no longer has value for the Christian, or that we shouldn't educated our consciences by careful understanding of the Law.

I hope you will take the time to read Delighting in Leviticus, link posted by Andy above. Its very helpful.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

AndyE's picture

Jay wrote:

I don't have much time, but let me say this:

I think Paul's point is that there is no inherent merit in obeying the Law, so we shouldn't expect that to help us (Romans 2). 

I don't like the way this is phrased, and struggled with the best way to put it.  This may not have been the best wording to use.

Thanks.  I sort of thought you didn't really mean to put it the way you did.

Jay wrote:
Even a few chapters later, Paul makes the point that we are no longer under the Law, explicitly comparing the rules on divorce to a woman whose husband has died:
Most of your follow up post is not really under dispute. I think everyone basically agrees. It's just this last point about what does it mean to be no longer "under the Law."  But here's  the thing, even if we both agreed that the Law has been totally done way with or abrogated, we still have the issue of 2 Tim 3:16-17 and what it means regarding the significance of the Law for us today. We can't simply ignore it or avoid it or say it is no longer authoritative. Instead we have to do the sometimes hard work of figuring out  how it applies. It may be harder to see the significance of Lev 19:19 than Lev 18:22 but that doesn't mean we are excused from the task or that it prohibits us from using the later if we don't understand the former. 

I'm not really a big Keller fan but I did appreciate how he approached this topic.  I especially like his final rejoinder:

One way to respond to the charge of inconsistency may be to ask a counter-question: “Are you asking me to deny the very heart of my Christian beliefs?” If you are asked, “Why do you say that?” you could respond, “If I believe Jesus is the resurrected Son of God, I can’t follow all the ‘clean laws’ of diet and practice, and I can’t offer animal sacrifices. All that would be to deny the power of Christ’s death on the cross. And so those who really believe in Christ must follow some Old Testament texts and not others.”

Keller is coming from the position that the Law hasn't been totally abrogated, just certain portions.  But even if you don't agree, doesn't his overall approach help explain why certain laws reflect the unchanging character of God and are thus eternally binding and directly profitable for doctrine, and others have to be understood and obeyed in a different way because they no longer apply (due to their fulfillment in Christ)?

JD Miller's picture

I noticed that this thread got a bit sidetracked on the subject of the law in the place of the believer.  I think it is an issue that has not been dealt with enough.  Around here we have started to run into a number of "Torah believers" who are essentially modern day Judaizers who are attempting to bring Christians back under the law.  I am not suggesting that those commenting in this thread are doing that. I am simply saying that these are things we must be ready for.   Greg Long summarized my position in his brief yet concise answer:

1.  You cannot pick and choose which laws of a law code are still in effect and which aren't. The Law of Moses is a code of law, and you are either under it or you are not. The tripartite division of the Law (civil, moral, ceremonial) is completely foreign to it (just ask any Jewish interpreter), and it breaks down completely once you start trying to categorize each law.
2.  Just because certain laws are common to both the Old and the New Testaments doesn't mean they "carried over" from one to the other, it simply means that they reflect God's higher moral law that he has applied to both His people Israel in the OT and to NT Christians. The fact that murder is against the law in both the US and Zimbabwe does not mean that somehow I am under certain aspects of Zimbabwe law; it just means there is a higher moral law that is reflected in both law codes.
3.  The New Testament says the Law of Moses has been abrogated. The "ministry of death, written and engraved on stones (Ten Commandments)," was "passing/fading away" (as pictured by Moses' fading glory) (2 Cor. 3:7-16). NT Christians are "not under law, but under grace" (Rom. 6:14; 7:4; Gal. 2:19; 4:4-7; 1 Tim. 2:8-9).
4.  For people to argue that this perspective results in the OT becoming meaningless is just silly. There are so many reasons why the OT is important and helpful (showing us sin, showing us God's moral law, pointing to Christ, prophecy, etc). Paul himself tells us why the OT is important, "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come" (1 Cor. 10:11)

I would like to add another consideration to the discussion.  As we consider that Christ did away with the law on the cross, we must remember that during His earthly ministry He had not yet died to abolish the OT Mosiac law.  Thus the Jewish population that He was ministering to was clearly under that law.  Further, after His death, the Jerusalem counsel of Acts 15 seems to appeal to the Law given to Noah rather than the law given to Moses.  Both Jew and Gentile are the offspring of Noah and thus would be expected to obey what God had said in Genesis 9.  

As we consider the law of Noah, there is a tradition that Gentile converts could either be proselyte of the gate or a proselyte of the temple.  Those of the gate only had to follow the law of Noah, those of the temple had to also follow the law of Moses.  I consider that Christians are only expected to act like a proselyte of the gate based on Acts 15.

Jay's picture

Further, after His death, the Jerusalem counsel of Acts 15 seems to appeal to the Law given to Noah rather than the law given to Moses.

The Jerusalem counsel appeals to the Law, yes, but specifically sets aside the act of circumcision, which is as fundamental to the Abrahamic covenant (which predates Moses' covenant) as it can get:

Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.”

The apostles and elders met to consider this question. After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” (Acts 15:5-11)

Paul also sets it aside later on in his writings as well:

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. (Galatians 5:1-6)

and in 2 Corinthians 3:

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory. Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:4-17)

 Jesus specifically says that He is inaugurating the New Covenant in His blood, and the writer of Hebrews is very clear that the old has been abolished as well:

But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. For he finds fault with them when he says: "Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more." In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (Hebrews 8:6-13)

Some have asked about what the purpose would be for retaining the law in the Bible if we are no longer under it, to which I say this: How else could we talk about being freed from the Law if we weren't familiar with it or the burden that it places on people?  How would be 'good news' to be freed from what we don't understand? 

I am really, really surprised at this conversation, and it's a little discouraging because it seems like such a basic topic.  I'm not even writing my thoughts - just reiterating (a lot of) Scripture back to the readers. 

God gave the Law to crush us under the knowledge of our sin and error.  That Law was set aside by the death of Christ.  We are no longer under any obligations to it.  Any principles that emanate from it are gone, because we are under the principles of the New Covenant, not the Old.  If the principles of the OT are still in force, it is because the NT has re-ratified or re-stated them.  We do not, and should not, be looking to apply Mosaic Law as principles on NT living.  We don't apply the Mosaic dietary laws, or the clothing laws, or the worship laws, or the sacrificial laws.  So why are we trying to apply pick out a couple of laws governing sexual ethics and cross apply them to modesty principles?  Is the NT no longer sufficient for us?  Do we need to lean on that which has been done away with? 

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Don Johnson's picture

Jay wrote:

God gave the Law to crush us under the knowledge of our sin and error.

Really? "Crush"?? God uses the Law as a schoolmaster, but was that his only purpose in giving it?

Another question. Are you confusing "covenant" with Law?

Jay wrote:

That Law was set aside by the death of Christ.  We are no longer under any obligations to it.  Any principles that emanate from it are gone, because we are under the principles of the New Covenant, not the Old.  If the principles of the OT are still in force, it is because the NT has re-ratified or re-stated them.  We do not, and should not, be looking to apply Mosaic Law as principles on NT living.  We don't apply the Mosaic dietary laws, or the clothing laws, or the worship laws, or the sacrificial laws.  So why are we trying to apply pick out a couple of laws governing sexual ethics and cross apply them to modesty principles?  Is the NT no longer sufficient for us?  Do we need to lean on that which has been done away with? 

All right, then, let's take your argument as given and just look at the New Testament. Are there no passages in the New Testament that address how a man or a woman dresses? In what way are we obligated to those passages and what do we call those obligations? Are they just suggestions? Guidelines? Things that might be nice for us to do?

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

AndyE's picture

Jay wrote:
God gave the Law to crush us under the knowledge of our sin and error.  That Law was set aside by the death of Christ.  We are no longer under any obligations to it.  Any principles that emanate from it are gone, because we are under the principles of the New Covenant, not the Old.  If the principles of the OT are still in force, it is because the NT has re-ratified or re-stated them.  We do not, and should not, be looking to apply Mosaic Law as principles on NT living.
Except that all Scripture, including the Mosaic Law, is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. Do you not believe that?  If what you say is true, why does Paul in Romans 7:22 say that he "delights in the Law of God?"  Why delight in something that provides no benefit?  Why does he say further in Romans 7:25 that "I myself serve the Law of God?"  What can that mean in your view that even principles from the Law are no longer in force? Paul seems to do exactly what you say we shouldn't do when he applies the Law of Moses (i.e., "you shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.") as a principle for NT believers.  He specifically says in 1 Cor 9:9-10, "Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not certainly speak for our sake?"  Isn't Paul contradicting what you just said when he says, "It was written for our sake?" And as I said before, the gospel "upholds the law" (Rom 3:31) because in Christ "the righteous requirement of the Law" is fulfilled in us (Rom 8:1-4) and thus we are no longer condemned by the Law.  Why would that be important if the Law was set aside and we are no longer under any obligation to it?

Jay wrote:
  We don't apply the Mosaic dietary laws, or the clothing laws, or the worship laws, or the sacrificial laws.  So why are we trying to apply pick out a couple of laws governing sexual ethics and cross apply them to modesty principles?  Is the NT no longer sufficient for us?  Do we need to lean on that which has been done away with? 
No, the NT is not sufficient. We've been given an entire Bible. The revelation of God as found in the Mosaic Law is still true, authoritative, and a solid rock upon which to stand. David says in Ps 119:160, "The sum of your word is truth and every one of your righteous rules endures forever."

Bert Perry's picture

One might wonder whether they got it wrong by saying that believers ought to abstain from blood in the meats they ate.  I remember reading that right after trying blood sausage while I was in Germany.

Primary reason I didn't try it again was that I didn't go for the taste much, one of the few things that I ate in Germany that I wouldn't repeat.  :^)  But seriously, it does illustrate the trouble we have understanding the Law today.  I've personally, like JD, observed modern Judiazed "Christians" who cause great damage--some of them apparently holding to provisions of Oral Torah (Talmud/tradition) while ignoring significant provisions of written Torah (books of Moses) and even significant provisions of Oral Torah.  

Put mildly, the hazards of picking and choosing which provisions of the Torah you're going to apply is dangerous business.  Look at it to contemplate why He put one laundry list of sexual sins in Leviticus 18 and not another, look at the same passage to ponder why He uses the particular Hebrew idioms He chose, use it to demonstrate that Christ and Paul were not doing anything new, that's great.  Back under the law, especially under the impression that it makes us more holy?  Um, no.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Greg Long's picture

I would recommend Law and Grace by Myron Houghton.

I have never heard anyone who says we are still under parts or aspects of the Law satisfactorily explain which laws we are still under and why.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Scott Matthew's picture

Greg, thanks for the book recommendation that I'll look for. 

Has anyone read a similar book, Law and Grace, by Dr. Alva McClain?  My hunch is they are similar in teaching.  I have that a copy in the depths of my library boxes somewhere to find.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I didn't like Houghton's book. I've read it three times, trying to understand what on earth he's saying. If you can actually understand what he's saying, or would expect a normal Christian to get this from reading the Bible, then I'd honestly like you to tell me. The same for McClain. I think they're unpersuasive, but they should be read.

Last year, I posted an excerpt from Houghton for Theology Thursday, aand a spirited discussion ensued. My basic issue with Houghton is summed up in my comments here.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

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